I’ve got a quick grammar tip for you today!
Many people don’t think about the fact that there’s a difference between a while as two words and awhile as one. Each has a different usage and meaning that’s actually not too difficult to remember.
Here’s an example:
I’m going to be at the store for a while.
I’m going to be at the store awhile.
Did you catch the difference? They are almost exactly the same except for one thing: the word for. This is how I like to think about it:
awhile = preposition + a while
So, in the example, the second sentence is: I’m going to the store awhile = FOR a while.
If it doesn’t make sense to use a preposition such as on, for, or in, use two words:
I think this is going to take a while/awhile. Which is correct?
You wouldn’t say: I think this is going to take for a while, right? So in this case a while as two words is correct. I think this is going to take a while.
See? Wasn’t that simple?
For more on this topic, visit Grammar Girl.